I’ve grown so weary of the same old holiday music played year after year. Even some of the things we used to listen to that were new and novel (Cha-Cha Christmas anyone?) are starting to sound a little long in the tooth. So, I started making a playlist that’s comprised of mostly new songs by more obscure and new indie artists, not just a bunch new takes on classic songs. Here's the list. Put some whiskey in your nog and give it a listen. Hope you like it!...

All in all, 2018 was a pretty decent year for music, both on record and on stage. As always, when I look at other year-end lists I discover things I missed, or never even heard before. There are no big surprises on this list – these are the albums that stuck with me the most over the year, so they lean more towards “favorites” that what I think of as “best.” Without further ado, here’s my list of 25 albums of the year in purposely random order. Check ’em out and let me know if you agree, disagree or something in-between....

For the most part, we get a pretty good range of bands that stop in lil’ old Portland on the way to-and-from Seattle and San Francisco. Heck, sometimes more esoteric bands make this their only West Coast stop. “Why?” you ask. Probably because we have a large and supportive community of open-minded rabid music lovers here. Heck, once it starts raining all we have left to do is sit inside and listen to music and make things! Here's my list of favorite shows I saw in Portland in 2018 in date order:...

Actor and comedian Jason Mantzoukas (you may recognize him from his hilarious, high-energy stint as Derek on “The Good Place”) goes shopping at Amoeba Music in Los Angeles and shows you what’s in his bag, including some amazing virtual products. I was amazed by the range and depth of his music suggestions, and I’m looking forward to checking out some of his more obscure (at least to me) recommendations. Bonus points for calling-out both Destroyer and My Bloody Valentine!...

Deerhunter has an album track record that’s tough to beat. From“Cryptograms,” their 2007 debut, to the already three-years-old, “Fading Frontier” there’s not a misstep in the bunch. The Atlanta-based band has always challenged the conventions of what makes a great pop-rock record (or art-rock record), so I was excited to see and hear them introduce the first single from their latest record, 'Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared' out January 18, 2019 on 4AD. On first listen, I thought Deerhunter had gone mainstream, but repeated plays reveal the dark and beautiful textures under the surface. Lurvely!...

Whenever Dan Bejar’s band Destroyer releases a new album I feel like a giddy little kid at Christmas. Sadly, their new record, “Ken” won't be out until October 20th, but they have put out a couple of singles that I’ll be playing non-stop until then. The beginning of the single “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood” could easily be the opening riff of a new New Order song which isn't too surprising given Bejar's published penchant for the post-punk pop group. Even the cascading drum fills that close the song remind me of the tribal drumming of New Order drummer, Stephen Morris. ...

We've seen !!! quite a few times now and are always blown-away how great they sound live. Capturing that energy on their albums has been somewhat elusive, barring a few especially slamming songs (Steady as the Sidewalk Cracks for one). Since their label gave them some money for a video, they went like Bill O’Reilly and decided to "Do it live!" with very nice results. Play loudly....

To start things rolling here at the new Smells Like Pop, we decided to go with something a little personal, and well, precious (to us). Here's a playlist that we made especially for our daughter when she was less than 10 years old for her first boom box. It's full of happy, peppy songs. And then it ends a little mellower, because “Hey, calm the eff down already!”...

Just stumbled across this video of Thee Oh Sees playing live on KEXP. We saw them on this tour at the Doug Fir and it was amazing. I had a perma-grin plastered to my face watching drummers, Dan Rincon and Ryan Moutinho play in almost perfect synchronicity. The sound was like a water canon pummeling you non-stop in the chest. Apparently, Moutinho left the band, so this video has only Rincon on the skins though he plays so fast he might as well be two people....

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